Exodus

loot

800 Copper
6,000 Silver
2,300 Gold
70 Platinum
2 vial(s) of holy water (100 gp)
6 bottle(s) of common wine (1.2 gp)
4 bolt(s) of fine silk (400 gp)
2 flask(s) of alchemists’ fire (100 gp)
1 lute (35 gp)
5 lbs. of copper trade bars (2.5 gp)
7 green tourmaline worth 100 gp each
Potion of Healing

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And a Merry Winter's Wrath to you
The carving of the White Dragon

Sven the Cook greets all his “friends” to the feast of Winter’s Wrath…" a time when we grow our roots deep and our souls as well. A time of enduring and soul searching as Winter’s chill touches our very soul and we search out the fortitude and strength of will to continue on until the day of New Birth. We are especially blest this year as we have slain one of Winter’s allies this year, the white dragon. And to commemorate this event i have had my fellow guild craftsmen craft for each of you a special gift.
For you dear Physle, tho you look at me with disgust at times, truly my heart aches as i see you practice and study your magic, often times a victim of your own fire. I offer you this, The Staff of the Tongue of the White Dragon, yes a bit wordy but i thought you would appreciate the accuracy of the name, This staff has great ability to sooth the burns you so often receive and perhaps even more magic lingers within from the words the great dragon spoke.
Silence, tho i have known you the least amount of time, i feel i understand some of what motivates you, my condolences to you for the loss of your North ally, may you remember him as you hear the Chimes of Dragon Bone, created to send forth eerie sounds that call forth fey friend and foe alike, may it draw forth allies to you as well as curious enemies for you to take their souls.
To Peyotor, The horns you were born with do not match the strength of soul you possess, may these Horns of the White Dragon help bring you the desires of your soul and the show the strength of courage you truly have. They are laced in silver runes, tips capped in gold.
General Maximus, a general should always be seen as a figure of great renown in thought as well as physical presence. Therefore i offer you this, White Dragon Scale Mail, May you be seen as the great general you are as well as the figure of awe and authority you possess.
And for the shadow of our group, a fine leather choker, emblazened with silver runes, a gift that not only exemplifies what the party would like to do to you, but also created of a body part that we all think you are. I think i need not say more.
Dearest Val or whomever you may be at this time, a special gift for you from the brewers guild, 3 bottles of White Dragon’s Blood Wine, drink it in good health or bad, may it chill your voracious appetite.
I see our little princess can stand it no longer, Dear little Athens, a Double Amulet Neclass of clearest sapphire blue, it drapes over your shoulders, on amulet eye in front and one amulet eye in back. May it guard you from ever being betrayed and stabbed in the back, I think i could not bear it if you were done such a wrong.
And for you, oh great latreenist. A new shovel for you, fitting your skill and prestige, The Dragons Claw, fingers pointed straight and together, slightly cupped for scooping, razor sharp for piercing the foulest of mucks. Shovel to your hearts content dear friend.
Oh and Zotoh, don’t think I’ve forgotten you. I present to you this Frozen White Dragons Heart, sealed shut by cold of the dragons blood, i tried for days to thaw it and retrieve the treasure within, but to no avail. It seems it is locked up tight and perhaps the coldest heart i have ever known save perhaps your own. May you take your heart and warm it one day and find the treasure within, assuredly something of love and desire lyes within if only you can discover how to open it.
Whats that Physle? For myself? What did i have crafted for myself? Tis but an honor i have crafted for myself. This meal is from the very meat of the Dragon. I cooked it especially for you all, for i do so love the joy on the faces of those i serve, and it is my honor to be the only Glaistig in the kingdom and beyond to have gotten a piece of Dragon’s Tail." And various objects and insults commence to being thrown at Sven even for all his thoughtfulness, his own thoughts betray him yet again.

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Diary of a Square Jawed Legionaire: Day 5

Dear Diary,

Today someone went and started driving the undead souls from the corpses of the Iron Legionaries. It turns out that inventing new crimes for the killing of things that are already dead is difficult. Also, witches it turns out, live in houses with sideways doors. Why can’t anything ever make sense?

Today I fought an inflated shed skin without an owner. It was gross. It had a friend, a suit of armor full of snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes? At least it skewered nicely.

Today I ran out of a dissolving witch’s hovel into a nest of humanoid snakes, and boy did they stink. Why does it always have to be snakes? They were easily skewered also.

Today, everyone else went bat fucking shit crazy as hell…

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treasure 11/13

400 cp, 10000 sp, 1500 gp, 110 pp, Small Bag of Incense (25 gp), Small Vial of Perfume (25 gp), Rabbit Fur Belt (25 gp), Rabbit Fur Hunter’s Cap (25 gp), Iron Decanter (25 gp)

7 bp- fey

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Diary of a Square Jawed Legionaire: Day 3

Dear Diary,

Today I watched my companions all dive off a cliff, attempting to hit the ground, and miss. I also saw the king out headbutt a goat man. Then we went into a drainage tunnel, steep, wet, and smelly, down to sump at the bottom of the quarry.

Except, of course, it was all slimy organic ichor, that fluoresced…and erupted with massive bloated versions of the goat-men. The king smashed one, which exploded, blowing up two more. It hurt. Goat entrails stink.

I woke up in the arms of the king. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. He fireman carried me out of the fight.

Today, I ran into a giant horny beast and thrust deep. Wait, that didn’t sound right either. I stabbed the big bad evil thing with my spear and killed it in one blow.


Dear Diary,

Today we emptied the treasury to repair the walls and I got a sudden promotion to General of the City of Ariven. This cannot bode well.

We returned to the city to learn of a killing spree against the minority gnome population, apparently perpetrated by our new Treasurer. After the faceless lady calmed them down, we learned that the local house spirits were dying. Apparently not the Treasurer. I hate investigations.

Today I learned that illusion magic is like a blanket, but not a very comfortable one. Grim described it as thick, knotty, and lumpy, like an old duvet.

Today I learned that it is a bad idea to talk about dead house spirits in a barn. The worms will come for you. And the rats. And the sheep. And they’ll laugh. And its creepy. And you’ll have to set the barn on fire.

Being a General sucks.

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Diary of a Square Jawed Legionaire: Day 2

Dear Diary,

Today I had dinner with some dead things. The idiots and I sunk a lot of resources into repairing the walls and re-arming the scouts, then headed out to source some lumber to stand up some palisades and burn for heating.

Today, I got jumped by a swarm of bugs, and another swarm of bugs, and another, and another. Oh, and a giant bug-monster with two stingers. I almost died, again, and again. But I got better.

Today, the valkyrie sprouted another personality and we found some cast-off booze, finery, and crates of spices leftover from the party. We also found a decent place for the lumber camp, relatively close to the barrows, which might make a nice bivouc for the darakhul.

Nashar is a pretty awesome guy.


Dear Diary,

Today, the iron legion of the ghouls sang happily as they marched out of town to take over their “old barracks”. The scouts brought back the rotted corpse of glaistig — except it wasn’t a glaistig and it wasn’t rotten. It was literally MADE out of rot, but at least it had horns.

Today we sent Lucius Antoninus out to take the people’s silver to silverize the scout’s weapons, while we sank our silver coin back into the citizens.

Today we headed out to the quarry, and, thanks to a spyglass we saw a bunch of the cancer-goats. Today I stepped on a branch and blew the element of surprise. Two went flying into the quarry to end up as grease spots on the stone. And the King and his howitzer went careening in a cart after them.

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Diary of a Square Jawed Legionaire: Day 1
The Bells of Arivan

Dear Diary,

Today the king turned me purple. I joined some Glaistig in defending our engineers against some elephant centaurs.

Today I learned that the fool king and his companions are cowards, but suprisingly creative tacticians. Went to a council of war, way above my pay-grade, wherein a ton of mystic bullshit about bells was discussed.

Today, I lead a drunken, glowing parade into the darkness and madness outside of reality. And Grim became a black moses, staff raised, dividing the sea of shadow with light. And, as the hordes overran the walls, the bell rang out…

Quothe Grim, “Ding Dong Motherfucker!”

Best Saturnalia EVER!

— Hastilarius Quadratus Maxillius

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Canto, the Last
A Gnome in the butt is worth two in the bush.

CARDS

  • Chaos – Shuffle the Deck
  • Zhuan Zhu
  • Dolmens
  • Apple
  • The Red Queen

The city of Arivan, in the midst of Saturnalia, the time of reversal and revolutions. The city has been in festival for the last five days, and wakes up to a much-too-serious hangover. Three running armies besiege the city. From the northwest come the legions, springing the traditional trap on the rallying local tribes. Between the legion and the walls is the skirling, swirling mass of the rebelling tribesmen. From the east the woods have come to Dunsinane — trees and rocks fly through the air from the giant forest ravagers and their kenku allies.

Meanwhile, by the open gates of the town, Lucius Antonius, Centurion of the Legions, draws steel on the idiots, clearly seeing through their lies. Speaking quickly, Idiot #1 suggests that the charging glaistig might be usable as a buffer against the incoming giants. The Centurion agrees and heads for the eastern wall, glaistig and their war-pipes in tow.

The glaistig and legionaire armies square off, while their commanders shout at them to stand down and start negotiating alliance against a common enemy. The idiots head for the eastern walls, apparently intent on pissing off a group of kenku outriders and drawing them between the two forces.

They roll out of the city and run strait into a plodding, lumbering, lethargic, mountain-sized mass of walking blubber. Showing uncharacteristic intelligence, the Cook turned and ran from the blobs of doom, Stan followed. Ralph (hereafter referred to as Skidmark) conjured up a herd of delicious looking swine, easily catching the lumbering masses’ attention. One of the blubbery masses leaped and sat on her.

Seeing the giant happily sitting on the delicious gnome, another comes crashing in and knocks him aside trying to get at the gnome meat. Two more come clambering up the hill, and are promptly greased up by Fizzle — quickly turning into a blubberlanche down the hill. A backhand from Backhander sent one of the first two reeling backwards into the oncoming blubberlanche.

Running and shooting and more running happens. Backhander and Gropee paused,
turned, and unleashed twin shatters, with a giant shuddering of blubber.
Grim likewise falls back between the leading giant and the trailing Skidmark and lets off a thunderwave.

And more running happens.

They closed in on the Glaistig and Legionaire armies, blubber giants still on their heels, whooping hollering and sending up sparks to draw the attention of all three sides. But, of course, they run strait into a flanker from the kenku-giant army — a horrible dog-like thing that leaps from the woods and, with a touch, makes grim bleed from every orrifice. Idiot #1 promptly appears behind it with a shovel and tips it into a creek.

And more running happens.

And the idiots charged right into the middle of the two armies, with a rolling mass of blubber and a horde of howling dog-demons on their heels and a legion of kenku. The careful negotiations broke down and glaistig and legionaires both went streaming into the city at top speed, leaving the idiots to stall the invaders while the armies got themselves organized.

Val’s falcon dives in and starts pecking at eyes. Ralph charged the enemy lines, axes in hand and started kneecapping. Stan disappeared and started laying out bear-traps. Gropee, it turned out, was so creepy that even the dog-demon flankers recoiled from her. Grim charged the dog-demon chieftain and latched on with his shadow touch just as the last of the legionaires poured through the gates and slammed them shut, and the Glaistig charged up a mound of charcoal onto the walls and lit it behind them. Leaving the idiots outside, alone, with the gates shut.

And more running happens.

Val faded out and runs strait through the wall. Ralph was tackled by Lucius Antoninus, strait into the fade. Gropee conjured vines out of the wall, creating a webwork of handholds to climb up. The Cook and Stan tried to go over the wall but were blocked by one of the dog-demons who was ahead of them. Backhander exploded a bag of sand in the demons eyes, giving the others a chance to get ahead. Grim came last, his withering touch killing the vines behind him. The idiots rolled onto the top of the wall just as the charcoal ramp burst into flames, cooking the following blubber-beasts, sending up reeking clouds of smoke and sizzling rivulets of rendered fat.

“Whose side are we on?!” Val asked exasperatedly. “We’ve switched sides at least three times in the last week.”

“We’re STILL on OUR side!” Idiot #1 replied, still wearing his paper crown.

Then the boulders started to fall, as the giants began bombarding the wall, followed by hurled, gliding ravenfolk shock troops. Ralph promptly started batting the incoming kenku out into the open air. One kenku went flopping to the ground below, the rest landed with a flutter of wings and a cloud of dust, ash, fire, and vermin blinding the idiots and sending Unibrow slipping over the edge.

The idiots were divided on three sections of wall, two divided by the burning pile of charcoal, the third separated by a crumbling section smashed away by a hurled boulder. Ralph held her section, punting birds back out into open air. Idiot #1 did likewise with his section.

The bird on the third section immediately dropped Grim with a blight spell, leaving Unibrow dangling and Backhander facing it alone. The nasty croaking bird easily shut down every spell cast at him. Stan tried to pull him into the abyss, only to . . .AAAAAARRRRRGH!

Later:
He must have died while writing it.

Come on!

That’s what it says.

Look, if he was dying, he wouldn’t bother to write “Aaargh.” He’d just say it.

That’s what’s written in the memo.

Perhaps he was dictating.

Shut up!

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Canto, the Fifth
Blood Rain Sucks

The idiots charged guns blazing into Saturnalia. Idiot number one was made the king of fools. Then they decided to join the Glaistig in overthrowing Ariven. And, because traitors will be traitors, and idiots will be idiots, they decided to arrange a marriage.

The Glaistig woke the idiots up shortly after the matins. There is a creepy hornless glaistig lady, pale as pale, and hard to see when not concealed in shadow, as contraditory as that is. The idiots are handed their weapons, oiled, darkened with resin, and muted with leather pads. They marched out with the cook on point.

They march through forest that looked oddly virgin. Then on past huge carved and fallen slabs of stone, covered in moss and etched with strange winged figures, like kenku with faces like elves. Ancient, ancient stones, from which nothing good could possibly come.

Of course, there rang out a brutal roar and the ring of weapon on weapon. The Cook moved closer to see a battered patrol of legionaires, most of them decapitated or torn in half, and a dark passage into a hillside. Standing before the passage was a centurion, holding the line against wode-painted, heavily muscled giants.

Quick as his broken wind, the Cook snuck up and healed the Centurion. A flicker of lights through the woods told the rest of the idiots that life was about to get even suckier than it was already. As hard as that might be to imagine.

More giants burst from the woods, to be met by angry glaistig. Ralph the Midget burst into the clearing, sword swinging. The rest of the idiots followed into the melee, apparently having a strange change of heart as many of them moved to help the Centurion.

Backhander snaired them with black-reaching arms of doom from the ground, then Unibrow called on the forest spirits to light up a tree, blazingly bright. With the giants blind and reeling, the Glaistig plowed through strait into the barrow.

Finally the idiots had a stroke of brilliance and followed the Glaistig towards the hole. Not that the hole looked at all pleasant or inviting, but it would be far superior to having one’s head caved in by the wode-painted giants. Idiot #1 even had the odd altruistic turn to try to grab the Centurion on his way in. The Centurion refused, until Snorlax and Unibrow tackled him in.

Val and the Unibrow, being the last in line, were skewered and tossed into the hole. Leaving, of course, myself. I slinked towards the hole, still unsure, until the giants began hurling things at me. Down the hole I went.

Of course the hole just happened to be a passage into the Fade. Of course. Like anyone would be surprised that the creepy, clearly malevolent hole into the hillside after passing through some creepy old ruins would be a passage into grimdark. Meanwhile, in the cold and dark, the creepy hornless glaistig woman who had led us here looked even creepier, her face cracked and ashen.

The Centurion seemed just as surprised as we were. Idiot #1 tried to convince him that the Glaistig with us were auxilia. I, meanwhile handed him my reports, him being the highest ranking officer present. Of course, like all the idiots, the Centurion failed to read the report, and thus bought Idiot #1’s barefaced deception. I shouldn’t even try, really.

The Centurion exposited of entire villages razed by the giant wode-painted things. Levels of destruction supposedly not possible by small scattered bands like the one we encountered. Creepy Glaistig lady suggested that the destruction might be related to Winter waking.

He finally sat down to read the report as everyone rested, but, of course, the bumbling cook dumped a bowl of stew on them. Everyone rested, recouperated, and ate. Some people got backhanded. Shields were confiscated, traded, and returned.

Within short order the idiots were back on the move, out of the cave and into a strange, unreal landscape. Everything growing was rotten, festering, diseased. The ground a soggy, bubbling morass.

A scout came back, covered with thorn wounds, and his flesh half-dissolved into air leaving only a disembodied skull. A whirlwind of boiling blood and bone descended, and promptly ate a second glaistig. Backhander promptly backhanded it from afar, hurling splinters of bone in every direction.

The idiots threw the kitchen sink at it — light, lightning, force, slashing and tearing blades — but still it stood. In response it did…nothing. Then Snorlax simply waggled up and smote the thing.

Creepy thing dealt with, the idiots moved in closer to the city. They knew this not by walls or houses, but by the wailing of children and the moving, seething, filthy movements of their burried dead. The houses that were there were the ancient, torn, rotted, and burned, remnants of Glaistig hovels.

There was a sudden light, painful, boring, and piercing. Then the idiots found themselves standing in the middle of Ariven. In the clear, finally, the archvist sent a second copy of his logs off to the legion.

Snorlax, meanwhile, pointed out that, beset by monsters the likes of we’d never seen, pitching the Glaistig against the Legion would be a bad idea. Perhaps not everyone in this unit are complete idiots.

The idiots headed for the gates, Idiot #1, still dressed as the King of Fools, attracted quite the crowd. He ordered dunkings for everyone and called for a pig. The Legionaires manning the walls and gates were in an uproar. The gates themselves were swinging closed, fast.

Gutting the pig, Idiot #1 read the entrails. Closing the gate was low reward, low risk. Opening the gates were high-reward, high-risk. The gates were opened.

A wild rabble of Glaistig came tearing towards the gate, as a full legion came out of the woods and began forming up against them. Then, from the other side of the city, came the deep sound of a mighty, shuddering horn, and a rain of massive boulders and whole trees being hurled through the air. Followed by marching rank after rank after rank of raven-folk, then an army of the lumbering wode-painted monstrosities.

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Canto, the First
Guys? Guys? This isn't funny any more...

Dramatis Personae:

Idiot #1 Peter
Fizzle Abi
The Cook Tim
No one of consequence JC
The Unibrow Jake
The Gropee Dallas
Backhander Bill

The irregulars camped at the bottom of the wall, cuddling in the safety of their bedrolls. The cook was awake, fixing their breakfast. The fire burned merrily, but the steaks were not becoming hot. The rest of them awoke to bone-aching cold.

The archivist awoke to cold, again. His shirt and pants were frost-rimed and his joints creaked. “Typical,” he said, as his clothes froze over and shattered. An idiot came running in, entrenchment tool in hand, and swung for his crotch. “Good thing I’m an eunuch,” the archivist grumbled.

A second, one “Fizzle” by name, rolled in and set fire to the archivist’s pants. Apparently something was hiding in there — something cold and spiky. The something bolted away, with his pants, of course. The something tore a strip from the archivist’s pants and tied it around its head like a bandana.

An angry and veiled priestess anger the something. So, of course, the something burrowed its way into her robes. “Just reach in there and grab it,” the first irregular said. A second, young, with a Hitler-stash and a unibrow, full-bodied tackled the priestess and started groping under her dress.

The something popped out of the priestess’ robes with a hand around its neck. A hand that was neither hers nor unibrow’s.

Idiot Number One shouted some nonsense about condemning it to death, and unleashed some fire, missing spectacularly. Fizzle did likewise, with better results, but only angered the something, causing it to stab for her feet with an icicle, and tumble into a teapot, which promptly froze and shattered.

The archivist spoke a word, “Healing”, towards the gropee, and then lashed out with some lightning, pulling the something over next to him. “You, something you, give me back my pants,” he said morosely. He picked up the largest portions of his pants, and they were suddenly shredded by a crackling bolt from the Gropee. “That’s gratitude for you…”

“Die!” screamed Idiot Number One, lashing out again with fire, more effectively this time, promptly mimicked by Fizzle who missed. At least they know how to take turns, the archivist thought.

“You’re next cupcake!” screamed the something, and it promptly vanished.

The archivist picked up a shard of teapot, which promptly exploded. Muffled mumbling could be heard from a sleeping bag, into which the old seer had somehow zipped himself. His beard woven into a muzzle, tied around his mouth, and frozen over. The seer’s bag had apparently been stolen. The Tribune, meanwhile, lay in his bedroll with a broken leg.

The something was invisible and flying. The archivist looked around and found a trail of blood from the something. They tracked it. Not towards the fire of ultimate coziness, nor the plains of pleasantness, but into the icy heart of the Mirror Forest. “Typical…”

The woods got closer and tighter, and tighter and closer. As they walked, snow melted, icicles fell, and a path appeared. The Cook led the way, covered with clanking pots, and a heap of snow which fell on his head from the trees above.

The brambles grew closer, thornier, almost as if they were deliberately woven to catch our clothes. Fizzle set it on fire, which was surprisingly effective, given how damp everything was. The kind of damp that made the archivist’s bones hurt, almost as much as the cold did.

Hanging in the brambles was a snowflake made of bound-together fingerbones. Fizzle mage-handed it into Gropee’s bag. A lazy, chill wind blew by. Gropee said it was a curse-marker, used by spirits in the employ of the north wind to curse their enemies. “Of course it’s cursed…”

The thorns grabbed and restrained the irregulars. All of them. Except Unibrow. Some creepy little twig-dolls appeared and started spitting thorns at them. The archivist dipped his head just in time to not get hit by one, then looked up and took a thorn to the forehead, and promptly passed out.

Let it hereafter be noted that the next portion of this account is based on hearsay.

Unibrow, with tremendous aplomb threw a rock masterfully at a tree branch, causing it to fall perfectly on top of one of our fell, fiendish foes, striking it a withering blow! Gropee followed with a viciously volatile volley of lightning! Idiot Number One aptly anointed the aging archivist with bilious blood, bringing him back to clear consciousness!

One twig-doll tumbled into the river below, because, of course there was a nearby ravine with a river below. A second leaped at cooky and began strangling him with its thorny limbs. The archivist leveled a smoldering glare at it, and it began to smolder. Idiot Number One lit it up as well.

The archivist said that word again, the “Healing” one, and Fizzle stood up. Then he yanked the twig-doll-thing over next to him with a lash of lightning. Where Idiot Number One promptly burned it to cinders. Then he opened a seal on that thing he carried and all the icicles on the trees turned to blood, and the cook got better.

A small, skittery, thorny creature scrambled its way into the thicket which held them. Fizzle talked to it, about fire and not-snowflakes and the missing satchel. “Winter is coming. Dig your roots deep. Drop your leaves. Store.” Gropee passed it some food, which it promptly sucked all the moisture out of. As the thing skittered away, Fizzle performed a ritual for the detection of magical auras. She sensed cold, faeries, the verge.

The irregulars moved. The trees moved. “Of course they moved.” It was easier to track in the forest at least, as the leaves near where the something had flown were brown, cracked, and frozen.

They came upon a small hamlet of Glaistig charcoal burners. They sent Unibrow in as a sacrificial goat to see if the locals were friendly, the others followed. Branches cracked, dogs barked, children ran yelling, and a crew of charcoal burners all carrying bundles of sticks, with glinting metal things insufficiently hidden within. Unibrow lay down and starts rolling around in the dirt, then stood back up. A nervous tick perhaps?

Someone let Idiot Number One talk. A Glaistig of the irregulars (where did this guy come from) backhanded him and shut him up. The locals seemed cautious, but Backhander stumbled his way through and offered them his weapon as a gesture of their good intentions. Idiot Number One opened his mouth again, and got backhanded again.

The locals were not simple forest folk living a simple forest existence. These were hard-bitten, armed, grumpy. They cooked their meals over long-burning charcoal. Cook stepped in to show off — drawing quite the crowd of women, and children, and dogs.

Idiot Number One struck up a conversation with the Tribune, Claudius Lysias, learning that he drew the short straw in being sent beyond the wall. Of course, everyone out there drew the short straw. As to the archivist, after much coaxing, the Tribune implied that he was “standard equipment”, and the poor man was thereafter referred to as “Stan”. For his part, the archivist cozied up to the fire and tried to massage some of the ache out of his bones.

Backhander strikes a conversation with the locals. They were proud folk, descendants of the workers and engineers who built the outer ramparts of the walls, more concerned with their freedom than their comforts. No fans of the Legion these, but they still would fix a block here or there to keep the wall intact. In exchange benefiting from cast-offs from the other side — medicine, cloth, weapons.

“What my friend here has been trying to say…”

“Don’t hit me again…” Idiot Number One butt in, after getting hit a few times, asking about ‘Borea’, the spirit of the North Wind. The locals informed the irregulars that there was a struggle in the forest, between the spirits of the wood and the spirits of the winter. It’s always been going on, but this year, “There is real blood, or sap and ice if you prefer, in the water.”

Backhander offered to provide a military escort to the locals to transport their charcoal to market. They, in turn, suggested that it would be more useful if they just emptied out the Kenku nests. Of course, the locals conveniently had some idea where it my be.

The archivist, meanwhile, hugging the warmth of the charcoal fires as much as possible, tried to turn an old blanket into a pair of pants. A gnome appeared out of nowhere and insisted on making the pants for him. They were glittery, spangled, flamboyant — exactly the sort of thing to make a target out of him. “Typical…” Then cut up his shirt into something not-at-all-warm, which showed off his caved in stomach and bared ribs. “Of course…”

At least they got a good night’s sleep.

Then they went off in search of the Kenku nests — filthy, befouled (and befowled) nests. The whole place was heavily pungent. Like a hutch of giant chickens, with a crude, useless outward-facing palisade. The cook scouted ahead. There were a lot of them — multiple hunting parties ten to twenty strong each.

Fizzle hurls a lance of fire at the biggest hut full of guano, and as her name implies, it peters out before making contact. The birds charged them, leaping into the air with heavy bundles of what were surely instruments of destruction.

Gropee suddenly revealed herself to be a kenku, or at least she looked like one. Backhand blasted one out of the sky with arcs of lightning.

Idiot Number One grabbed Fizzle and charged them back, downhill, on a lead sled. Two were knocked prone. One was knocked sliding down the scree. Five more were left in the dust behind him. Closer now, Fizzle could, in fact, hit the broad side of a barn. Of course, she and Idiot Number One were sitting in the middle of the caldera of highly-flammable bird shit.

A handful of kenku swooped down upon the irregulars at the top of the hill. Three dropped rocks on Unibrow, another three dropped rocks on the archivist. Of course. The archivist, being the only intelligent being present, cast sanctuary and hauled ass for the tree line. He probably would have been better off without the flashy pants.

Idiot Number One threw down his shield and surfed further down the scree, dodging charging kenku. He grabbed Fizzle, and cast “Don’t quit on me now girl,” and somehow managed to burn up a kenku as they went past. Fizzle, meanwhile, started glowing and unleashed a thunderwave, blowing the remaining kenku away. They flew down the hill, sparks flying from the metal shield, and breaked right on the edge of the steaming lake at the heart of the extinct volcano on which the Guano City had been built.

And, of course, they were all going to die, but not until next time…

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